What’s going on with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebackers? It was the first question that was asked of Brian Kelly at his post practice presser, and it generated a response we should all expect right now:
Like I said, there’s a group of guys that we have to continue to work on. Clark [Lea] is working overtime. We are at the fundamentals of linebacker play. Good base, strike, tackling. Today we didn’t tackle very well. We were in good position but we’re just not there yet. This is going to be a process. Continue to be patient, continue to work with them, be positive with them and continue to do — as you’ve seen what I’ve asked Chip (Long) to do offensively, much more inside-out run game. Really challenge our defense on the perimeter. We’re playing a lot more press coverage. So we’re trying to service each other in the spring.
We’re going to keep rolling up our sleeves and going to work with kids that have the ability but have a skill set that needs to continue to be sharpened.
Long story short... they are continuing to search for the best three fits at linebacker that they can find, and they appear to be going about it very methodically. Kelly spoke well of Asmar Bilal who continues to work at the MIKE, and he was quick to point out Jack Lamb as a guy that has flashed this spring as well.
It should be pointed out that Shayne Simon was working behind Asmar at the MIKE as well. Clearly these kind of moves show the process Clark Lea is working through — regular hours or on that sweet OT.
Perhaps all of the extra media access this spring was a very calculated move on Kelly’s part to prove that the team is honestly working up and down the depth chart to position themselves for that final piecing this fall. The wide receivers are getting a similar treatment — though not nearly as mixed.
If there’s nothing to show other than the work, why not add that extra bit of pressure to the players that you are trying to place inside the 2-deep? I like it, but it also makes me a bit nervous as some things still seem a very long way from being resolved.